Public Safety Campaign

Fire Safety in the Home

Fire Safety in the Home

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Every year, more than 2,500 people die and over 12,000 are injured in home fires that could have been prevented. In California, it is the law that every home and multi-home dwelling have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department has information on how to keep you, your family and your home safe in case of a fire.


Be Fire Aware

  • Fire Is Fast. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can go completely out of control and grow into a major fire. Thick smoke can fill up a home quickly and inhibit your respiration and eyesight. Most deadly fires occur in the home when people are asleep. If you wake up to fire, you won’t have time to grab valuables and other important items. Make sure to get out of the burning building before calling for help.
  • Fire Is Hot. Heat is more threatening than flames. Since heat rises, when a fire breaks, the temperature at ground level could be 100 degrees and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. If you are caught in a fire, stay as low as possible and crawl to safety. Inhaling extremely hot air can scorch your lungs and melt clothes to your skin. Fire Is Dark. Fire starts bright but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness. If you wake up to a fire, you may be blinded, disoriented and unable to find your way around your own home.
  • Fire Is Deadly. Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire uses up vital oxygen that you need to breathe, and produces smoke and poisonous gases that kill. Breathing even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented and short of breath. The odorless, colorless fumes can lull you into a deep sleep before the flames reach your door. You may not wake up in time to escape.

Preventing Home Fires

If you cook:

  • Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or boiling food. If you leave, make sure to turn off the stove.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled-up sleeves to prevent your clothes from catching fire.
  • Keep children at least three feet away from cooking areas around the stove.
  • Position BBQ grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings.

If you smoke:

  • Smoke outside, and make sure to put out your cigarettes in a can filled with sand.
  • Make sure cigarettes and ashes are completely stubbed out before discarding.
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used, even if it is turned off. Oxygen can be explosive and makes fire burn hotter and faster.
  • Never smoke in bed!

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Fire Safety in the Home

LACoFD Holiday Decor Safety

Holiday & Decor Safety

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The holiday season is a joyous time, filled with beautifully decorated trees and houses draped in festive lights. But every year, dry Christmas trees, holiday lights and candles cause hundreds of house fires.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department has a few tips on keeping you, your family and your home safe during the holidays.


Holiday Lights

    • Always maintain your holiday lights. Before hanging your lights every year, check for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets and excessive kinking or wear.
    • Unless the directions state it is safe to do so, do not link more than three light strands.
    • Periodically check the wires; they should not be warm to the touch.
    • Do not leave holiday lights on unattended.

Holiday Decorations

    • Use only nonflammable decorations or flame-retardant ones. Decorations should always be placed or hung away from any heat source.
    • Make sure that your tree or any of your decorations do not block an exit way. If a fire occurs, a blocked exit way could put you and your family at risk.
    • Never put wrapping paper in the fireplace. It could cause a very large fire, throwing off dangerous embers and sparks that could result in a chimney fire.

Holiday Candle Care

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Consider using battery-operated candles instead.
  • If you use lit candles, never place them on a tree. Place them in a stable candle holder.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from all flammable materials, decorations and wrapping paper.
  • Make sure to keep lit candles away from children and in an area where they cannot be blown or knocked over.

Christmas Tree Safety

There are many alternatives to fresh trees. Many of the artificial trees are fire-resistant. If you buy one, look for a statement that specifies this protection.

If you decide to buy a real tree, make sure to determine the freshness of your tree. A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree.

To check for a tree’s freshness, remember:

  • A fresh tree is green.
  • Fresh needles are hard to pull from branches.
  • When bent between your fingers, fresh needles do not break.
  • The trunk of a fresh tree is sticky with resin.
  • When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that the tree is too dry.

When setting up a tree…

  • Place it away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Heated rooms dry out trees quickly, producing a fire hazard.
  • Use thin guy-wires to secure a large tree to walls or the ceiling.
  • Make sure to keep fresh trees in a sturdy, water-holding base.
  • Prevent the tree from drying out by keeping the stand filled with water as long as it is indoors.

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Holiday and Decor Safety

Handling the Heat

Handling the Heat

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Children and the elderly are the most at-risk during the hottest days of summer. The Los Angeles County Fire Department has helpful tips on how you can stay healthy this summer and prevent heat-related illness.


How to Protect Against Heat Injuries

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Consume two to four glasses of water every hour during times of extreme heat.
  • Replace salt and minerals. Sweating removes salt and minerals from your body.  During exercise or when working outside, the best way to replenish these nutrients is to drink fruit juice or sports drinks.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen. Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.  Make sure to apply sunscreen.  Sunburns affect the ability for the body to cool itself and also cause a loss of body fluids.  When selecting sunscreen choose one with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Pace yourself. If you are not accustomed to working or exercising in hot weather, start off slowly and pick up the pace gradually.
  • Stay cool indoors. During peak hours, stay in an air-conditioned area.  If you do not have air conditioning, consider visiting a shopping mall or public library for a few hours in order to stay cool during the hottest hours of the day.
  • Schedule outdoor activities after peak hours. If you must be outside, plan your activities either before noon or in the evening when the temperatures are cooler.  If you must be out during peak hours, make sure to rest frequently in a shady area.
  • Monitor those at high risk. Individuals who are the highest risk of heat-related illnesses are infants and children up to four years of age, people who overexert during work or exercise (i.e., construction workers, etc.) and people 65 years of age or older.
  • Keep pets indoors. The heat also affects our pets; if possible, bring all pets indoors.  If pets cannot be brought inside, make sure they have plenty of water and a shaded area to help them stay cool.

Warning Signs

If you see any of the following signs, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim.

Signs of Heat Stroke

  • An extremely high body temperature (103*F)
  • Unconsciousness
  • Dizziness, nausea, confusion
  • Red, hot, dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Paleness, tiredness, dizziness

Beach Safety

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A day at the beach can be fun and memorable! But, the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Lifeguard Division wants to remind you of some dangers you should be aware of when you spend time on the sand and in the ocean.


  • Always swim and surf near an open lifeguard station and never swim alone.
  • Check in with the nearest lifeguard for daily ocean conditions and hazards.
  • Always swim and surf within your abilities. Use good judgment.
  • If in doubt of the large surf, do NOT go out!
  • Never dive into shallow water. Remember feet-first every time!
  • Use swim fins and a leash whenever bodyboarding.
  • Keep a safe distance from piers and rocks, and always obey warning signs.
  • Never throw sand and always fill in holes before you leave the beach.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Use sunscreen and wear a hat.
  • Respect other beach patrons and remember your beach manners.
  • The bicycle path is like a road. Always look both ways before crossing!
  • If you or someone in your group gets lost, always find the nearest lifeguard.

Beware of Rip Currents

A rip current is a current that runs from shallow water near the shore to deeper waters beyond the surfline in a river-like phenomenon. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves. The bigger the waves, the bigger the rip currents.
Rip currents are a leading hazard to beach goers. Inexperienced swimmers are often caught in the current and pulled out to deep water. Panicked swimmers try to counter a rip current by swimming straight back to shore, putting themselves at risk of drowning because of fatigue

Here are ways to escape a rip current:

  • Remain calm.
  • Tread water and float.
  • Stay on your bodyboard or surfboard.
  • Get the attention of a lifeguard or a bystander who can alert a lifeguard.
  • If you are able to self-rescue, swim parallel to shore first to get out of the rip current before swimming into shore.

Watch Out for Stingrays

Stingrays are bottom-dwellers, found partially buried in shallow sandy waters during the summer. They are flat fish with eyes and nostrils on the top side of their bodies with their mouths and gills underneath.
The stingray’s defense mechanism is camouflage. If it is stepped on, it will sting. To prevent getting stung, shuffle your feet along the sandy bottom to allow time for a stingray to move away.
If you get stung by a stingray, get immediate help from a lifeguard or paramedic.

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Beach Safety

Water Safety

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It only takes a few seconds for a child to drown. Drowning accidents are a leading cause of death for children under four years old. And, almost 70% of all drowning accidents occur in backyard swimming pools which could have been prevented.


The Los Angeles County Fire Department has tips on how you and your family can stay safe:

  • Never take your eyes off a child when he/she is in or near any body of water; not even for a second.
  • Don’t rely on barriers, such as fences or walls near a pool or spa. There is no substitute for constant supervision.
  • Make sure your pool or spa has a fence, wall or safety cover that guards against unsupervised access, particularly by young children.
  • Make sure doors leading to the pool or spa area are self-closing and self-latching or are equipped with exit alarms and are never propped open.
  • Remove toys, tricycles or other children’s playthings out of the water and away from the pool or spa when not in use.
  • Don’t consider your children to be “drown-proof” because you enrolled them in swimming or water-proofing classes.
  • Don’t rely on inflatable devices to keep your child afloat. These are not substitutes for adult supervision.
  • Always drain standing (surface) water from the pool cover. Remember that even a few inches of water can be hazardous, especially to young children.
  • Learn CPR and rescue breathing.
  • Install a phone or keep a cordless phone in the pool or spa area.
  • Keep a life-saving ring, shepherd’s hook and CPR instructions mounted at poolside.

Lifeguard RingIf someone is in trouble in the pool:

1. Don’t panic; yell for help.
2. Get the child/adult out of the pool immediately.
3. Call 911 for emergency medical services.
4. If you’re trained, begin CPR, if necessary.
5. If you’re not trained in CPR, follow telephone instructions from the Fire Department until they arrive to assist you.

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Water Safety